Data Presentation Tips

Data Pie

When data are analysed and interpreted, the most challenging part of the job is done but it is far from being over. Just as important is to present and print the data in the right way because even the best interpretation will not achieve its goal if it is not presented to the target audience in a clear, easy to understand and interesting way. The data should be easily printed in a format that is easy to read means ad hoc printing can be completed on the day.

Data presentation methods have changed dramatically over the last few decades, mainly due to the use of computers and various software programmes. These have made information communication a lot easier for both the person who presents the data as well as his or her audience. The traditional textual forms were mostly replaced by data visualisation tools such as graphs, dials, charts, maps, etc. which are universally understandable and are instantly absorbed by the audience. This is due to the fact that a graph for instance requires a lot less concentration and thinking to be able to understand the message than a purely textual format. The use of data visualisation alone, however, does not automatically translate into a successful presentation which requires more work than it may seem at a first glance.

Every successful data presentation bases on a considerable amount of preparation and often also a rehearsal or two. But the very first thing you should do if you want your data presentation to achieve the desired effect is to determine the structure of your presentation. In a way, data presentation is like telling a story and for that reason it should follow a certain pattern as well as be fluid. To achieve the desired fluency, you should therefore create a plan for your presentation from the beginning to the end. Data is usually presented by the use of inductive method or building the story along the way but it is also possible to begin with conclusion and then break it into several sections which explain how you interpreted the data. Both presentation approaches, however, require the right visualisation tools and support materials which usually include textual data as well.

When you create a structure for your presentation, you should focus on visualisation tools and support materials you will use. Which ones to choose depends on the type of data you will be presenting as some tools are used for displaying specific data only. A beautiful and visually appealing presentation is highly desirable, however, it is crucial to make sure that all the key data are clear and understandable. Data visualisation is most certainly the best way to make your presentation interesting but it is important to keep in mind that poor selection of visualisations may not display all the relevant data, while your presentation can even be misunderstood. But even when data visualisation tools could not be more understandable, the target audience may have additional questions. For that reason it is crucial to support your conclusion with additional materials.

In the end, be sure to pay attention to timing. Presentation that lasts too long can reduce the importance of the communicated information, while a presentation that ends too early can make you appear like you have nothing to say.